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Introduction to Literary Terms

Note: When writing or talking about literature, always use the present tense.

CharactersCharactersbeings that create, move, or experience the actions of a narrative.

beings that create, move, or experience the actions of a narrative.

• Can be humans, animals, or imaginary beings

Charactersbeings that create, move, or experience the actions of a narrative.

Two categories
1. Main character- central to the action. Reader follows this character throughout the narrative (story).

Charactersbeings that create, move, or experience the actions of a narrative.

Two categories

2. Supporting character- not as important to the story, may serve other purposes.

Two categories

Protagonist- Hero-The character we want to succeed- usually good or virtuous, although sometimes the protagonist can be an anti-hero, or a flawed character who still has our sympathy.

Characters Two categories
Antagonist-Villain- The character who tries to stop the hero-usually bad or evil, but not always.

Point of View
The narrator's position in relation to the story being told.

Point of View

• First Person Point of View “I”, “Me”, “Mine”, “We”, “Us”. Narrator participates in the action of the story. When reading stories in the first person, we need to realize that the narrator’s story might not be the whole truth. • We should question the reliability of the version.

Point of View
Third Person Objective Point of View The narrator is an observer, telling no more than what can be inferred from the story's action and dialogue. The narrator never shares the characters thoughts or feelings.

Point of View
• Third Person Omniscient The narrator does not participate in the story as one of the characters, but knows everything about all the characters and the reader know exactly what the important characters are thinking, doing, and feeling. We learn about the characters through this outside voice.

Point of View
Third Person Limited Omniscient A narrator whose knowledge is limited to one character, either major or minor, has a limited omniscient point of view.

As you read a piece of fiction think about these things: How does the point of view affect your responses to the characters? How is your response influenced by how much the narrator knows and how objective he or she is? First person narrators are not always trustworthy. It is up to you to determine what is the truth and what is not.

• The time , place and surroundings of a narrative.

Story Line
• Plot-What happens in the story-The sequence of events.

• Exposition-Characters and setting introduced.

Story Line

• Conflict-The problem that drives all the events and actions in the story.

Types of Conflict human vs. human

Types of Conflict human vs. self

Types of Conflict human vs. nature

Types of Conflict human vs. society

Types of Conflict human vs. supernatural

Story Line
• Climax-Resolution of conflict.

Story Line
• Denouement-After the resolution-the end of the narrative.

• The ideas and emotions at the center of the narrative.

Sing your song. Dance your dance. Tell your tale. ---ANGELA’S ASHES, FRANK MCCOURT

• Information in the story that give hints about future events. (dark clouds=negative events; a character’s evil smile= they might be planning something wicked; a frequent reference to death= someone’s going to…DIE!)

• Irony-A contradiction of expectation between what is said and what is meant or a strangeness between what might be expected and what actually occurs.

Dramatic Irony
• A situation in which the audience knows something about present or future circumstances that the character does not know

Dramatic Irony
• Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. When Romeo finds Juliet in a drugged sleep, he assumes her to be dead and kills himself. Upon awakening to find her dead lover beside her, Juliet then kills herself. • WE (the audience) know she’s alive, but HE (Romeo) thinks she’s dead) • k

Verbal Irony
• A contradiction of expectation between what is said and what is meant. • Sarcasm is a type of verbal irony– “oh, you’re always sooo nice to me.” (right after someone has done something unkind to you)

Situational Irony
• When what we expect will happen, doesn’t. For example, the bride and groom are walking down the aisle, everyone looks happy and just as the bride is supposed to say “I do”, she bursts into tears and says, “I don’t love you!” • afKc

• Objects and characters that represent something beyond their literal meaning.

Sample Writing
• Everyone has read a favorite short story or novel. Describe your favorite short story or novel and explain why it was important to you.

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